SHOVELLING SNOW

The fun park, better known as Ischgl Snowpark, is the highlight of Ischgl for snowboarders. But to make sure it really does offer fun, it has to be shaped every day. How is it done? We watched Daniel, the shaper, at work.

The container with the distinctive jeep on top. The kicker. The rails. The airbag. The (mostly) cool music you can hear far and wide. You really can’t miss the snowpark in Ischgl, an almost magical centre of attraction for snowboarders and skiers alike. But for a handful of employees at the Silvretta Seilbahn AG cable car company, it’s also a whole lot more: the shaper crew, who have to keep it in great condition every day.

Daniel is one of them. He’s 28, comes from Romania and is already in his second season in Ischgl. Every day at 8 am, he and his colleagues start to bring the park back into shape, and it’s a lot more work than you would generally imagine. All the approaches are freshly prepared, or shaped, every day. The ruts are removed, the edges of the jumps are redrawn. “The approaches would be too dangerous otherwise,” says Daniel. There are different tools for it depending on how deeply the grooves have dug into the snow, and how hard the snow has become overnight.
If you watch Daniel shaping, you get the general idea that, physically speaking, the job is pretty demanding.  And it’s also easy to understand that Daniel worked on building sites in Romania before he came to Ischgl. Because a fun park like this one is really just a big building site, too.
After the shaping the shaper crew like to sit in the container and watch the freestylers jumping. You can’t leave Ischgl Snowpark alone, says Daniel, because there are always people who could ski into the park and do crazy things. Like jumping on the mats with ski poles. Another classic is coming up to the jumps with too short a gap to the next rider. And if you listen to him, you also understand why the approach to the popular airbag is limited. “Some people would take so much of a run up that they would jump right over the bag,” says Daniel, and laughs.
Not Daniel himself, of course. Because he himself hits the kicker a couple of times a day on good days. Nobody could say, after all, that the work up here isn’t also fun.